Caregivers face strain when patients receive heart pumps

March 7, 2018, American Heart Association

When heart failure patients receive a heart pumping device known as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), their caregivers seem to suffer, too - at least initially, according to research in Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

In a study of 50 pairs of and their caregivers, researchers noted that patients reported dramatically improved quality of life in the first month after receiving an LVAD, however at the same time, caregivers reported significantly increased strain - a subjective measure of stress related to caregiving.

The American Heart Associations' scientific statement on LVAD patient selection notes that adequate social support is crucial for the success of LVAD therapy, and many centers require patients to have a designated primary (i.e., unpaid family member or friend) to help them manage their condition.

Researchers found caregiver strain worsens immediately after implant and then returns to pre-implant levels over six months, but does not further improve. The quality of the patient-caregiver relationship was associated with better outcomes for both, and may be a target for future interventions.

The greatest sources of strain for LVAD caregivers in this sample were time constraints (no time for self-care or other obligations) and compromised social life, followed by physical strain.

The study is one of the first to examine how the patient-caregiver relationship may influence both patient and caregiver outcomes.

"As cardiologists using heart pumps to support this extremely sick group of , we sometimes neglect the impact of our therapies on caregivers and families. This clearly shows how these advanced therapies affect caregivers, and that the relationship of the patients to their caregivers can alter outcomes," said JAHA Editor in chief Barry London, M.D., Ph.D., who is also Director of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

Researchers say interdisciplinary clinical approaches that consider both the patient and the caregiver as individuals as well as the characteristics and health of their relationship to one another may be more effective than solely patient-focused approaches.

Explore further: Shared decision-making between patients and clinicians can result in better choices

More information: Journal of the American Heart Association (2018). DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.117.008080

Related Stories

Shared decision-making between patients and clinicians can result in better choices

February 27, 2018
As more and more older patients are offered advanced treatments for chronic diseases, including surgeries and implantable devices, new questions have arisen over how these decisions are made.

Women with Parkinson's disease less likely than men to have caregivers

December 1, 2017
Female Parkinson's disease patients are much less likely than male patients to have caregivers, despite the fact that caregivers report greater strain in caring for male patients.

Caregiver well-being linked to quality of cancer patient care

August 30, 2016
(HealthDay)—Informal caregiver well-being is associated with patient-perceived quality of care (QOC), according to a study published online Aug. 29 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Depression in caregivers of dementia patients, worse for daughters or daughters-in-law?

October 13, 2016
Too often overlooked is the risk of depression in caregivers of patients with dementia, and a new study focuses on how depressive symptoms may differ depending on the familial relationship between caregiver and patient. The ...

Heart failure patients, clinicians have differing perceptions of risk level

August 16, 2017
Physicians identified a majority of patients with advanced heart failure as at high risk for transplant, left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or death while few of those patients considered themselves to be at high risk, ...

Feinstein Institute study looks at impact of a popular pre-heart transplant therapy on the kidney

October 25, 2017
Scientists, nephrologists and cardiac surgeons from The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Northwell Health's Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiology and Cardio-Thoracic Surgery examined the impact of a popular ...

Recommended for you

Your weight history may predict your heart failure risk

December 12, 2018
In a medical records analysis of information gathered on more than 6,000 people, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers conclude that simply asking older adult patients about their weight history at ages 20 and 40 could provide ...

Age is the biggest risk for heart disease, but lifestyle and meds have impact

December 12, 2018
Of all the risk factors for heart disease, age is the strongest predictor of potential trouble.

New understanding of mysterious 'hereditary swelling'

December 12, 2018
For the first time ever, biomedical researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, report cellular defects that lead to a rare disease, hereditary angioedema (HAE), in which patients experience recurrent episodes of swelling ...

Workplace exposure to pesticides and metals linked to heightened heart disease risk

December 11, 2018
Workplace exposure to metals and pesticides is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease in Hispanic and Latino workers, reveals research published online in the journal Heart.

Research team traces pathway to cardioprotection in post-ischemic heart failure

December 11, 2018
During an ischemic attack, the heart is temporarily robbed of its blood supply. The aftermath is devastating: reduced heart contractility, heart cell death, and heart failure. Contributing to these detrimental changes is ...

Macrophage cells key to helping heart repair—and potentially regenerate, new study finds

December 11, 2018
Scientists at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre have identified the type of cell key to helping the heart repair and potentially regenerate following a heart attack.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.